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Android Auto, Apple CarPlay in more cars

It hit me recently as I was driving a car without satellite radio. Why bother when I can get just the entertainment I want through my phone? And without spending $14.99 a month for a SiriusXM subscription.

Now, I’m not knocking satellite radio. It’s been a great thing, but the advent of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay makes you see the sunset of the popular radio system in cars.

Apple explains its system this way, “CarPlay features Siri voice control and is specially designed for driving scenarios. It also works with your car’s controls — knobs, buttons or touchscreen. And the apps you want to use in the car have been reimagined, so you can use them while your eyes and hands stay where they belong.”

Android says by the end of 2015, 35 car models will offer Android Auto, “helping you access Search, Maps, music and other information through your car’s controls.” It’s going to be done either through voice commands or controls on your steering wheel.

Google says, “We’re working to enable new forms of integration with Android devices, and adapting Android for the car to make driving safer, easier and more enjoyable for everyone.”

Hyundai has made offering Android Auto to owners of certain Sonatas as simple as going online. (They can also do it through their dealers, of course.) Hyundai was the first automaker to have Android Auto on production vehicles, starting with the Sonata and soon expanding to other models.

“This is the first time we’ve made a software upgrade available using the MyHyundai portal,” said Michael Deitz, senior group manager of Connected Care, Hyundai Motor America. “Sonata owners can add more value with Android Auto in an easy-to-do upgrade that takes less than an hour. Hyundai is continuing to offer the best user experience possible by leveraging its MyHyundai platform, so customers have the option to update their car — their way.”

Chevrolet will offer both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in its 2016 models. There’s a big market out there for both. Chevrolet cited Strategy Analytics data showing more than 2.3 billion smartphones in use globally. Those owners are going to want to use them in their automobiles.

Andy Gryc, content conference director for the Los Angeles Auto Show’s Connected Car Expo, said Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are being adapted by car companies to reach younger buyers. “If your life is all about the phone and you live through the phone, you want to find a car that supports that,” he said.

The big selling point behind the two systems is safety. You no longer have to look down at your phone to control the apps you want to use while driving. Currently, most cars allow you to plug in your phone to be connected (through a USB port), but you still need to manipulate your apps through your phone. Now you can press a button on your steering wheel, for example, and get the system to respond.

The beauty of both systems, which I have seen demonstrated, is their simplicity in updating your entertainment and navigation software because it’s all done through your phone. (Except in the case of Hyundais when you do need to download the system the first time. Then it does take an hour.)

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